Axos Invest Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Axos Invest offers inexpensive investment management, and allows more portfolio customization than most robo-advisors.

Alana BensonJanuary 5, 2021
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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Axos Invest stands out for the level of customization allowed by the service: The company allows investors to add or remove 32 investment types, including socially responsible investments.

Best Robo-Advisor for Cash Management

Axos Invest

Axos Invest

Fees

0.24%

management fee

Account Minimum

$500

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low account management costs.

  • Customizable portfolios.

  • Goal-based planning tools.

Cons

  • Limited account selection.

  • $500 account minimum.

Compare to Other Advisors

Betterment
Wealthfront
SoFi Automated Investing
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fees

0.25%

management fee

Fees

0.25%

management fee

Fees

0%

management fee

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$500

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

Promotion

$5,000

amount of assets managed for free

Promotion

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

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Full Review

Axos Invest charges a 0.24% management fee and offers more portfolio customization than most robo-advisors offer. Axos lets investors create unlimited milestones to track progress toward multiple financial goals.

In August 2020, Axos Invest restructured its offerings: The company no longer offers free investment management, but instead offers all of its previously Premium features such as Portfolio Plus and tax-loss harvesting for a single annual advisory fee of 0.24%.

Axos Invest is best for:

  • Beginner investors.

  • Goal-based investing.

  • Investors who want to customize their portfolios.

Axos Invest at a glance

Account minimum

$500

Account management fee

0.24%

Investment expense ratios

Average 0.12%

Account fees

$75 automated transfer out fee; $30 returned check fee; $10 IRA closing fee.

Portfolio mix

Portfolio mix is generally well-diversified but lacks significant exposure to international bonds. Portfolios are highly customizable for a robo-advisor.

Socially responsible portfolio option

Portfolio Plus feature lets you invest in particular sectors, such as Digital Security, or causes, such as companies with women in leadership roles.

Accounts supported

• Individual nonretirement accounts. • Roth, traditional and SEP IRAs.

Tax strategy

Tax-loss harvesting included on all accounts.

Automatic rebalancing

Automatic and free on all accounts.

Human advisor option

None.

Savings account/cash management account option

Its affiliate company Axos Bank offers savings accounts with 0.61% APY.

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

Phone and email support Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific.

Where Axos Invest shines

Inexpensive management: A big draw of robo-advisors is that they offer financial advice and management for much less than a human financial advisor charges; around 0.25% to 0.50% of assets managed is typical. Axos squeaks under that range with its 0.24% management fee. Yes, that 0.01% doesn’t make too much of a difference, but any money you don’t spend on management fees is money you get to keep.

Customizable investments: Like many robo-advisors, Axos Invest’s investment philosophy is based on modern portfolio theory. The company automatically creates a portfolio for each client by asking a few questions. Those questions lead to a “risk score” that helps build a recommended portfolio of exchange-traded funds, weighted to reflect the amount of risk the investor is willing to accept. The company says clients can increase or decrease their risk scores, and the investment recommendations will automatically update to reflect the change.

Axos Invest’s Core Portfolios are similar to those of other robo-advisors. The funds the company draws from carry an average expense ratio of 0.12% and cover U.S., international and emerging market equities; U.S. government and corporate bonds; short-term high-yield bonds; Treasury inflation-protected securities and real estate investment trusts, or REITs. Many of the ETFs are from Vanguard and iShares.

Investors who want to customize their portfolios can use Axos Invest’s Portfolio Plus feature at no extra cost. Clients can add or remove 32 investment types and add investments by sector, such as digital security, marijuana, consumer staples and socially minded companies. And while the level of added customization is a great middle ground for those investors who want more control than they'd get with a traditional robo-advisor but don’t want to choose all their own investments themselves, the company states that portfolios constructed from the additional investments available through Portfolio Plus are not recommendations of Axos Invest.

Goal-based investing: Axos Invest takes a goal-based approach to help investors create buckets for their money, called "milestones." Users tell the service their goal, time horizon, income and net worth, and Axos Invest will calculate a recommendation for how much should be invested toward that milestone. Users can also adjust Axos Invest’s recommended asset allocation for each milestone with a bar slider.

Automated investing: The free Formulas feature (available only with taxable investment accounts, not IRAs) lets users quickly take advantage of opportunities to direct additional funds through a linked bank account toward investing goals. It's like an optimized version of investing on autopilot. For example, you can set it to deposit matching funds for any dividends your investments pay. Or if an investment drops in value, creating an opportunity to purchase extra shares "on sale," you can set a formula to automatically buy more.

Tax-loss harvesting: Tax-loss harvesting, an investment strategy that can help reduce taxes on your investment gains, is available to all Axos Invest customers.

Where Axos Invest falls short

Account minimum: Axos Invest’s old model had a $1 minimum to open an account, but its new model has a far steeper $500 minimum. Several robo-advisors operate with a $0 minimum, making that $500 threshold feel especially high.

Account selection: Axos Invest customers can open only individual taxable accounts or traditional, Roth or SEP IRAs. You can’t, for example, open a joint taxable account with your spouse, as you can at other robo-advisors and brokers, and you can't open a trust or a custodial account for your children.

Is Axos Invest right for you?

Axos Invest is a solid choice for investors looking for low-cost management as well as some goal-based guidance. For investors who want more choice than a bare-bones robo-advisor offers, Axos Invest makes it easy to dip your toes into choosing your own investments. Of course, as soon as you start choosing your own investments, you take on some of the responsibility that a robo-advisor would otherwise assume for you. Be sure to do your due diligence with any investments you pick.